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May 2, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”—Mark 4:3–8 (NIV)
Some of the best teachers are the ones most effective in helping you understand, while showing they care about you and want you to learn and grow. People with the gift of teaching often stand out by their ability to naturally come up with great analogies or stories that help explain a concept in a simpler, more relatable, practical way.
Here, Jesus decided to use a boat as His stage as He started to teach and draw a crowd around the seashore. Yet, as in a conversation with someone you know and care for, He chose to sit down to explain spiritual truths to the crowd and He did it in parables.
We don’t use the word “parable” often these days but it comes from the Greek word parabolē, meaning "placing alongside or parallel to.” In Jesus’ parables, He would set a spiritual truth alongside a daily truth of living to make it practical and understandable.
In this parable, Jesus started describing something very familiar to those listening—a farmer that would throw seed on the ground and the seed falling on different types of soil. Some seeds fell along a path of uncultivated soil. This soil was beaten by the feet of those who walked on it making the soil hard and dry and making it likely for these seeds to stay in the surface and be eaten by hovering birds.
Other seed fell on rocky ground, where limestone bedrock sat beneath the soil. The seeds’ roots couldn’t grow down because they’d hit the bedrock. And because they couldn’t grow down and get moisture, the seed instead grew up quickly above the surface with no roots to hold them firmly to the ground and not enough moisture to help them survive against the hot sun. So, they’d eventually be scorched and wither.
Other seed fell among thorns or weeds. This was deceptive soil. It looked good and clean, but beneath the surface were roots of weeds that were ready to spring to life again because they had not been uprooted completely. These weeds restricted the good seed from growing and producing fruit by drinking the moisture and veiling all sunlight.
Other seed fell on good ground and produced good fruit, but not all to the same degree.
Those listening to these parables would have different responses. Jesus highlighted proper listening when in Mark 4:9 (NIV) He said, “Whoever has ears to hear” (meaning those with responsive hearts) because He knew His parables would have opposite effects on those ready to listen versus those who were not.
Tomorrow, we’ll explore Jesus’ explanation of this parable to the crowd and the depth of this teaching.
PAUSE: What deep truth is Jesus trying to teach you? Are you receiving it?
PRACTICE: Take a sticky note and write down an area where you are trying to grow in your walk with God. In the back of the sticky note, list the things that are keeping you from growing. Put the sticky note on a mirror or something you look at every day so you can remember to pause and pray for God to help you grow in these areas.
PRAY: Dear Lord, I thank You that You watch out for me and always want me to grow; that You desire to teach and guide me in my everyday life, because You have the best purpose and plan for my life. Help me have ears to hear what You have to say to me and to respond in obedience. Help me to stay consistent, Lord. Amen.
Mirely Maldonado has been part of the Calvary Chapel family since 2013 and now serves as staff in the Events Department. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Film & Digital Video Production and has taught the Bible at Bible Study Fellowship for six years. She treasures good conversation, enjoying the beauty of the outdoors, and loves reading.